The group running the UK's largest national network of private hospitals is to be a major sponsor of the first BUSINESSiQ Awards.

Founded in 2004, Circle Health Group has 54 hospitals across the UK - including the  Woodlands in Darlington - working with more than 4,000 expert consultants. It has now agreed to sponsor the Health and Wellbeing award at our big event at Ramside Hall on April 28th, hosted by Alfie Joey and with a keynote speech from Dragon's Den star Sara Davies.

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Circle's Executive Director Debbie Dobbs said she was delighted to have the opportunity to work with BUSINESSiQ and that the awards were a great way of supporting businesses who put so much into the local economy.

"We also want as many people as possible to know what Circle stands for in the North East and how much we value the communities we work with," she said.

"Working alongside such amazing businesses and the BUSINESSiQ team will give us an opportunity to make a difference."

The Northern Echo: The Woodlands hospital in DarlingtonThe Woodlands hospital in Darlington (Image: Press release)

Debbie said the physical and mental health of the North East was just as vital for its future as investment and recruitment.

She told us: "We hear a significant amount regarding individual health and wellbeing - not only physical but mental health awareness - so anything we can do to increase the public awareness of local services by supporting these awards can only be viewed as a positive for everyone.

"Over the last decade we have been an active sponsor of local awards in conjunction with Newsquest. The BUSINESSIQ award category 'Health and Wellbeing' is perfect for our sector and one we were thrilled to be asked to sponsor.

"Events such as this are critical to the North East's success. We still sometimes hear negative stories, but awards such as the BUSINESSiQ event will encourage others to invest in the local area and to get involved. And as well all know, networking with others can also offer new opportunities.

"This is a region that has positivity running through every project, with stories about the Airport, the Treasury and the Freeport letting everyone know this is a place for investment - and that is why Circle is proud to be at the heart of the region."

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As the new year gets underway, Circle Health Group has key goals to achieve: increasing patient numbers, continuing to develop the Ophthalmology Service and expand the Robotic Orthopaedic Surgery and growing patient numbers.

"We want to be best in class and the employer of choice," said Debbie.

"They are ambitions that fit so well in a region like the North East."